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Gay Rights Group: Don’t Delay Marriage in NJ

Lawyers for a group of gay couples said in a court filing Friday that New Jersey’s key argument against allowing same-sex marriage immediately is “contrary to established law.”

The reply brief filed Friday is the last one expected before oral arguments on gay marriage in New Jersey, scheduled for Thursday.

Six couples and several of their children sued the state two years ago pressing for same-sex marriage to be allowed. Backed by gay rights groups, they said the state’s civil unions were not fulfilling a state Supreme Court requirement that gay couples receive the same legal treatment as married couples.

After the U.S. Supreme Court in June invalidated key parts of a federal ban on same-sex marriage, the couples asked a judge to rule quickly on the matter without holding a full trial. They said the state policy is now blocking gay couples from receiving full federal benefits of marriage, in areas ranging from taxes to immigration.

Earlier this month, the state’s attorney general defended not recognizing same-sex nuptials, arguing that New Jersey couples can receive many of the federal benefits even without having marriages recognized by the state. The government also said that any deprivation of federal benefits should be taken up with the federal government rather than New Jersey.

In Friday’s reply, lawyers for the couples said the state was wrong. “The state’s effort to avoid responsibility for its actions by blaming the federal government is contrary to established law,” they wrote.

The plaintiffs also say the case is worthy of a summary judgment ruling because couples are being hurt now by being denied some federal benefits.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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